Stargazers Just Got a New International Dark Sky Park
Go there and see the stars like never before.
While it's possible to spot a constellation or two just by stepping outside and looking up, if you really want to take in the night sky, you need to head to a designated dark sky location. The International Dark Sky Association keeps tabs on these areas, recording them on an ever-growing list, which just got a little longer.
The organization added Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to its official list of dark sky locations, the first international transboundary Dark Sky Park. The park is made up of Glacier National Park in Montana and Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park. The two were combined into one park in 1932, forming the world's first-ever international peace park. To earn its spot on the International Dark Sky Association's list of designated dark sky locations, the park installed LED streetlights and several dark sky-friendly fixtures and bulbs that illuminate the area without increasing light pollution, according to a statement from the National Park Service.
"Dark night skies are an important wilderness characteristic at Glacier National Park," Pete Webster, acting superintendent for the park, said in a statement. "Clearly seeing the expanse of the universe increases a person's sense of solitude well beyond that of the terrestrial landscape. A Dark Skies designation aids International Peace Park visitors in finding their own wilderness solitude."
Dark Sky Park certifications aren't just for stargazers. They help raise awareness about light pollution, reduce energy waste, and offer major benefits for the environment and wildlife. Artificial light is harmful to nocturnal animals because it throws them off, according to the park service. Those types of animals require complete darkness to forage for food, mate, and move around.
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park's designation from the International Dark Sky Association brings Canada's dark sky location count up to 12. Others include Quetico Provincial Park, Mont-Mêgantic, and Waterton Lakes National Park.